Joseph’s Secret to a Happy Life

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I will admit it.

There have been times over the past 10 years that I have wanted to pack my bags and return home.  But there are two things that have prevented me from leaving Croatia:

1. I am not a quitter
2. I know that no matter where I am, I will never be “home”.

I didn’t come here with rose-colored glasses. I was raised in ministry, so I know that ministry can be hard and very lonely. I wasn’t naive in that sense. But I did embark on missionary life with some level of expectations and big, big dreams.

I can say with complete certainty that nothing has gone the way I’d planned.

I have experienced incredible victories I could have never dreamed up. I have been disillusioned. I have felt lonely and have dreams come true that I never dared to hope would be a reality.

But of all of the lessons I’ve learned, there is one that stands out among them all.

If 5 years ago someone had asked me to describe contentment, I probably would have said something like, “Being satisfied with your present state of things” or something to that effect.

I know better now.

Take Joseph, for example. Here he is in prison. His dreams are so distant now, I am pretty sure he wondered at times if he had been hallucinating or something.

But the doors open, and the guard calls on him – it is time to leave.

What does Joseph do?

I am pretty certain he didn’t say: “No thanks! I am satisfied with my current state of things. I find them quite pleasurable, thank you. I think I’ll stay here.”

That’s ludicrous.

Does contentment mean that you never hope that your situation changes? No, I don’t think so. I am pretty sure that Joseph hoped to be released at some point. In fact, he asked the cupbearer to remind Pharaoh that after all that time, he was still in prison.

So, what is contentment then?

Contentment: choosing to view life’s circumstances through the prism of God’s plan


Joseph’s acceptance of his circumstances wasn’t rooted in a belief that he shouldn’t ever hope that they would someday change. 
When we face financial reversal, I don’t think God expects our attitude to be: “I don’t need to find a better job with better pay, I am content living a substandard level.”
That’s ridiculous!
And yet Paul said that he was content in whatever state he found himself.  
So what does this mean?
Paul’s hunger, Joseph’s prison, our financial reversal or lack of employment – what do they mean?
The clue is in Joseph’s reply to his brothers when they begged him to spare their lives. Their father had passed away and they were certain that with their father out of the picture, Joseph would be exacting some much overdue revenge on them.
As they bowed at his feet and begged mercy he said, “You didn’t do this to me, God had a plan all along to save the nation. He sent me here to save you all.”

You didn’t do this to me, God did!


Your boss didn’t do this to you, God allowed it to happen!
The President of the United States didn’t do this to you, God allowed it to happen!
The protesters in Ferguson didn’t do this to you, God allowed it to happen.
You see, Joseph realized one important thing: what seemed like a prison to the human eye was really God’s workshop. God removed him from his family and all that was secure, allowed him to be sold into slavery, sent him to the house of Potifer as a servant and the sent him to prison for one purpose – 

 To prepare him to save a nation!

All of the negative things that happened to him served one purpose – to prepare him for the plan that God had created him for!
This is the fountain from which true contentment flows.


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  1. I believe wholeheartedly in God’s plan but I know in our fallen world Satan wins his small victories. God never wanted a soul to be lost, a child to be hurt, or death steal away a loved one. He can work all these ill things to our good! Romans 8:28. And that’s where my contentment comes from!

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